For 224 years

Every time you turn around you hear some Liberal saying that Islamic terrorism is the fault of the USA. They tell us that if we hadn’t been occupying Saudi Arabia, we never would have been attacked on 9/11. They say that if we weren’t occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, the Muslims around the world would love us. Or at least not hate us. Not if we gave up helping Israel, too.

Folks on our side of the aisle respond that Radical Islam has been around since the 80s, citing numerous terrorist attacks on our embassies in Africa and the Middle East, hijackings of airliners, assassination attempts and so on.

What is being ignored is that this has actually been going on for 224 years of American history. Since we won our War for Independence. And before that, the attacks were on European nations. For the purpose of this diary, we will look only at the attacks on the USA.

For hundreds of years, there had been war between the Muslim and Christian nations that had interests in the Mediterranean Sea. By the 1600s it had settled down to mostly piracy. The most prolific and feared of the lot were the Barbary Pirates of North Africa who gave allegiance to the Sultan’s regent in Tripoli. Even after their effectiveness dwindled under English guns in the 1700s, they were still feared enough to be given tribute by all European, seafaring nations.

With victory in the American Revolution, American ships lost the protection of the British Navy in the Mediterranean Sea and began to fall prey to the Barbary pirates.
In 1784, President Washington and the United States Congress sent the Barbary pirates $80,000 as tribute to convince them to leave our ships alone. They did not. Our crews were killed or enslaved and our trade-goods stolen. In 1799, this payment was formalized in a treaty with Tripoli. Tribute to the Barbary Pirates was the greatest expense in the Federal Budget, amounting to 20% of all expenditures, and still our people were murdered and enslaved and our property stolen.

Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson had argued in 1784 for the creation of a Navy, stating that this nation must choose “…between war, tribute and ransom,” and that tribute was money thrown away. He was overruled by Congress.

In 1801, after taking office as the President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson refused to make the tribute payment and the Bashaw of Tripoli responded by cutting down the flag at the US Consulate and declared war.
President Jefferson’s response is well-known: he forced the creation of the Navy and the United States Marine Corps through Congress and attacked the Barbary nations. The wars finally ended in 1815 with American victory.

What is apparently Not well-known and needs to be reiterated every time this comes up in discussion, is the reason the Barbary pirates attacked American ships in the first place.
In the Spring of 1786, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with the Envoy of Tripoli, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). In answer to the question of why Tripoli should make war on nations that had done no injury, Thomas Jefferson wrote of the Ambassador’s reply:

It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.

emphasis added

Because we were not a Muslim nation, all Muslims were not just encouraged but Required to attack, kill and enslave our people.

We didn’t start this. American “Imperialism” isn’t the cause of this. “Radical” Muslims did because we are non-believers.

Original handwritten letter by Thomas Jefferson: